A handful of students at Montclair’s Hillside Elementary School learned a lesson in civil disobedience today when, with their parents — and in one case, also their grandparents — they
flaunted flouted a rule of their principal, Michael Chile, and parked their bicycles openly in front of the school this morning.
Jennifer Savitch, who brought the issue to light last week and enlisted the help of Bike-Walk Montclair to send the message out to other cyclists in Montclair, pointed to a bicycle hidden under the branches of a dense evergreen to show how cyclists have been stowing their gear in light of the bicycle parking ban.
“I love to bike,” she said. “As long as it’s safe, I really think it should be allowed,” Savitch said. “Safety’s primary.” Savitch’s son Luke, 9, a student at Hillside was part of the protest, along with his brother Ethan, a 7-year-old at Nishuane. Their grandparents, Susan and Hank Savitch of Ocean Grove, left their house around 6:30 a.m. to join the protest.
“It’s to save global warming,” said Hollen Gibson, 9, a Hillside third grader. “And to have a happy, healthy life.”
Paul Mickiewicz, fitness director at the Montclair YMCA and an active member of Bike-Walk Montclair, showed up in support of the cyclists. He said that he ran into Chiles at the Y last week and had a good discussion about bicycling at Hillside.
“I think there’s definitely an opening,” said Mickiewicz. “Bottom line, he wants to keep kids safe. All we want to do is help make it safe.”
The protest took place just feet away from a tree planted in the memory of Kia Carnegie, a Hillside student who was killed in a bicycle accident in 1993 and whose death is reportedly the reason for Chiles’s strong stance against cycling to school.